Thursday 24 October 2019

The basics when letting a property

There may be over 150 pieces of legislation relevant to a landlord or letting agent’s responsibilities when letting out a property, but here are the basics I’ll always check first when I visit a prospective landlord at their potential rental property:

 Is it leasehold?
If so, you’ll need to check there are no covenants that stop you letting out the property to a certain type of tenant or, in extreme cases, preventing you from letting it at all! You may also find the freeholder and/or management company needs to be alerted to the fact the property is to be rented (and to who).

 Is there a mortgage?
If you have a buy-to-let mortgage, or no mortgage at all, then you’re all set. But if the property is currently your home and you have a residential mortgage you’ll need to apply to your lender for ‘consent to let’ and/or switch to a buy-to-let mortgage.

Is it insured?
Specialist landlord insurance for the property will cover the building, your contents (including fixtures & fittings) as well as providing you with legal indemnity cover.

 Is there an EPC?
An in-date EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) with at least an E rating is required prior to letting (some exemptions apply). They’re valid for 10 years and there’s a register online you can check before you order a fresh one.

 Are smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in place?
There needs to be a smoke alarm on each floor of the property and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room with a solid-fuel burning device e.g. an open fire.

 Got gas?
Any gas appliances i.e. gas boiler / hob / fire needs to be checked by a Gas Safe engineer on an annual basis to check things are safe, with the certificate being provided to the tenants when they move in.

 Furnished or unfurnished?
Most rental properties are let unfurnished, but if you plan to supply any furniture it needs to comply with fire safety regulations (look out for the manufacturer’s label).

 Are the electrics up to scratch?
Whilst there isn’t (currently) a legal requirement to have the electrics checked in all rental properties, landlords are responsible for providing them in a good condition and would be found liable if harm was caused to tenants due to negligence. Any old non-RCD fuseboxes, outdated switches or sockets and any loose wiring should be checked by a professional.

The above doesn’t even touch upon considering the condition and desirability of the property or its likely target market and rental valuation. I’ll look at those points next week, but in the meantime if you’d like any further advice on any of the above please get in touch.

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